Friday, 10 February 2012

Mining in Greece to 2015

Greece has a number of rich mineral resources such as lignite, copper, bauxite, perlite, bentonite, gypsum and gold. However, the Greek mining industry declined in both volume and value in 2009 as a result of the global economic crisis. Greece also faces the problem of a high budget deficit and the EU’s second-highest external debt burden after Ireland. Recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU approved a sizeable bailout package for Greece at a low interest rate, and asked the country to adopt austerity measures to reduce its debt, which include disinvestment in public sector enterprises, including state-owned mining companies.

Coal production dominates the Greek mining industry, representing nearly two thirds the country’s total mineral production in 2009. This was followed by the non-metallic mineral category, which is composed principally of the production of cement and perlite, and the metallic mineral category which is dominated by the production of bauxite and nickel.

Economic recovery and increased investment will stimulate the Greek mining industry.
The Greek mining industry produced a total of 63.2 million tons of minerals in 2009, representing a small decline over the review period. The decline was primarily due to the fall in coal production and lack of growth in sales of metal, which adversely affected metal production in the country. During the forecast period, it is expected that the growth of the end-user markets for minerals and metals, such as the construction, power and manufacturing industries, will increase the demand for minerals and overall mining production.

Use of coal in Greek power generation is decreasing.
The country has vast reserves of lignite and, as a result, lignite-based power plants account for most domestic power generation. However, the government wants to increase the share of renewable energy in its power production and reduce its carbon emissions in accordance with EU policies. As a member of the EU, the country is obliged to produce at least 20% of its energy through renewable sources, but the country has set itself a target considerably higher than this. As a result, the consumption of coal for power generation is expected to fall in the long-term.
Improper waste management leads to public opposition in Greece.

A new mine development is facing opposition from local inhabitants and political parties, centered on a failure by mining companies in Greece to follow waste management strategies which is polluting the environment. Such opposition deters investment in new mines and increases in opposition from political parties lowers the popularity of new mining projects.

Differential treatment for foreign companies that are not part of the EU.
The government has restricted investment from non-EU companies in its mining industry. These companies are required to obtain licenses and other approvals that are not required by domestic and EU-based operators. Such regulations deter foreign investors who could otherwise be potential sources of growth for the Greek mining industry.

Demand for copper in Greece is expected to increase.
The Greek government has announced plans to move towards renewable energy to decrease the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, which are harmful to the environment. As copper is an important metal used in the generation of renewable energy, the demand for the mineral is likely to increase in the future.

Exports expected to rise as the global industry recovers.
The global mining industry has, overall, begun to recover due to an increase in the demand for, and price of, minerals. During the forecast period, with exports expected to account for more than half of the total production volume, the Greek mining industry is expected to improve its current situation. Export demand for metallic and non-metallic minerals is expected to rise in the forecast period, as the economies of Greece’s major trading partners are expected to perform better in the coming years.

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